UNION leaders within the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) have warned the closure of Chorley will have a knock-on effect on the already stretched NHS across Lancashire.
They say Chorley’s ambulance network will be bled dry taking patients to other hospitals, leaving the district with limited emergency cover.
It’s putting lives in danger because it’s taking further ambulances off the road for extended periods of time, and it’s something that’s out of our control as an ambulance service and it can’t be allowed to happenUnion boss
Tony Dunn, acting convenor for the GMB union within NWAS said: “You can’t keep shutting hospitals down and expect people not to turn up, they’ve got to go somewhere.”
He said the extra distance covered would have a major impact on the service.
“That ambulance is on the road longer. Where it could have dropped off at Chorley, it’s now faced with going to Preston or the other alternative hospitals. It will have a knock-on effect for the people of Chorley because that ambulance is then taken out of that area.
“The way ambulances are dispatched is to the nearest emergency. If there are life-threatening incidents in Preston and in Chorley and the Chorley ambulance is in Preston, it’s going to be targeted at the Preston one.”
Mr Dunn said ambulances regularly end up off the road because of major queues in A&E departments.
“We see, time and time again, queuing down the corridors,” he said. “The hospitals can’t cope, we’ve had crews stood in hospital corridors for five or six hours and they can’t respond to emergencies.
“The management are doing their best to come up with solutions, but when we are talking about poorly patients you can’t just abandon that patient.”
Mr Dunn said the closure of Chorley’s A&E department would affect people in the town and surrounding districts.
He said: “It’s putting lives in danger because it’s taking further ambulances off the road for extended periods of time, and it’s something that’s out of our control as an ambulance service and it can’t be allowed to happen.”
He said he thought two extra ambulances were to be provided, but said: “I don’t think that’s enough. It’s not just about the ambulance, it’s about where the patients will receive treatment and the back of an ambulance is not the ideal place.”
He added: “The whole NHS across the country is in a bit of a sorry state of affairs at the moment.It needs somebody to take the bull by the horns and press the re-set button.”